Monday, November 29, 2010
Coaches and Superstars
The Brazilian, Robinho, was transferred from Real Madrid to Manchester City with a great deal of money and even greater fanfare. Robinho never found his footing under Mark Hughes or his successor, Roberto Mancini. Robinho played fairly well his first season in the English Premier League. In his second season, he got injured playing for his country and after his recovery never really got back his ‘samba” rhythm. He lost confidence in his game and the Manchester City coaches lost confidence in him.
Robinho was in a hostile work environment and went back on loan to play for his old club in Brazil, Santos. He recovered his form and confidence and played decently for his country in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa under Dunga.
Robinho had no desire to return to the hostile work environment of Manchester City and was transferred at the beginning of the 2010-11 season to A.C. Milan. Under the watchful eye of Allegri, the Brazilian captain started off slowly but has recently captured his former glory and has become a match-winner for A.C. Milan under Allegri.
The fortunes of the Brazilian superstar, Ronaldinho, so far this season has been
quite different from his compatriot, Robinho. Ronaldinho did not fare well under Ancellotti who in the 2008-9 season coached A.C. Milan. Ancellotti was not impressed with Ronaldinho’s work habits and kept him more on the bench than on the pitch.
Ronaldinho’s fate changed dramatically the following season when Leonardo became the coach of A.C. Milan. Ronaldinho got back his starting place and had a very good season but not good enough for Brazil’s national coach, Dunga. Dunga refused to call back Ronaldinho to the Brazilian world cup squad.
Ronaldinho started in the early stages of the 2010-11 season and impressed the new Brazilian coach, Mano Menezes, that he was called back to the Brazilian national squad. In the international friendly with Argentina, Ronaldinho started and played most of the game.
As his stock has risen in Brazil, his stock has fallen in the eyes of the A.C. Milan coach, Allegri. Ronaldinho has become a bench warmer and comes on in the closing stages of the game. A.C. Milan drew this weekend with Sampdoria but remains at the top of the table in the Serie A. Allegri has been playing hard tackling runners in mid-field with Seedorf as his playmaker and Robinho and Ibrahimovic as his two strikers. When Pato returns from his injury, Allegri will have to determine what he does with the in-form Robinho and the club will have to decide on the long term fate of Ronaldinho.
Some superstars thrive under particular coaches while others sink into an abyss.
Great coaches like Ferguson of Manchester United and Mourinho of Real Madrid have the astuteness to bring out the best in superstars. Ronaldo thrived under Ferguson at Manchester United and has done the same for Mourinho at Real Madrid. Berbatov’s remarkable performance against Blackburn Rovers is an example of Ferguson not giving up on Berbatov who scored five goals in that 7-1 drubbing. Ferguson has also shown great guile in the handling of Wayne Rooney, who has not yet hit top form for this season but is working his way back.
The jury is still out on Manchester City’s Roberto Mancini. There is much discontent in the camp and despite an impressive victory against Sunderland, managed only a tie against Stokes. Already Adebayor and Rogue Santa Cruz are on their way out and there will be others to follow in the January transfer market.
Mancini has had his troubles with Carlos Tevez who he has made captain but his real test will be whether he can bring Mario Balotelli to the level of greatness and concomitantly integrate him into being a team player at Manchester City.
Managers/coaches do determine the fate of a team. Winning is not an option. It is what determines the fate of the coach as Rafael Benitez will discover in due season. Under his tutelage last year World Champions are still struggling. Crucial to the task of being a winning coach is not just the technical expertise but the handling of superstars. In the January transfer market, players will be shuffled around. At the end of the season, some coaches will also be shuffled around; others will join the ranks of the unemployed.